Comments: Journalist Susan Bourette worked undercover at a slaughterhouse for an exposé on meat processing and came out a committed vegetarian – which lasted for about five weeks. Dissatisfied with tofu and lentils, she began her quest for the perfect meat – one she could enjoy without guilt.
She went on a series of meat-centric field trips, all giving different perspectives on the conflicting, often overlapping, issues of a meat-consuming culture, including production, the environment, society, morality, economics, and politics.
Chapter by chapter, Bourette takes readers first to the slaughterhouse, then:
- behind the counter of a boutique Greenwich Village butcher shop
- on a whale hunt with the Inupiat in Alaska
- for a long, hot spell on a Texas cattle ranch
- on a moose hunt in Newfoundland
- to the bucolic setting of New York's Blue Hill farm
- in the kitchen in one of the busiest steakhouses in Houston
- to a meeting of the raw meat (well, raw everything) movement
- to the community production of boudin in Louisiana Cajun country
- and finally to her family's Thanksgiving table
With more than a dose of humor, lots of fascinating information, and a whisper or two of more graphic information than absolutely necessary, Bourette (in a long-term relationship with a committed vegetarian), resolves to keep eating meat as a "compassionate carnivore." To do it in good conscience, she realizes she has to have a "radical overhaul" of her shopping and consumption habits – eating less meat and better meat, supporting the small farmer and not the factory farm, and eating organic and pasture-raised meat as often as possible. At the end of a year of travel, research, tasting, and writing, she finds she can have her meat and eat it, too.